Sister Nathalie Becquart XMCJ Sister Nathalie Becquart XMCJ  (Catholic News Service) #SistersProject

Sr. Becquart: Extra year of Synod to make Church more inclusive

Sister Nathalie Becquart, Undersecretary of the General Secretariat of the Synod, comments on Pope Francis' recent decision to extend the synodal process by an extra year, saying it will allow for a greater "time of maturation.”

By Joseph Tulloch and Adelaide Patrignani

Sister Nathalie Becquart XMCJ, Undersecretary of the General Secretariat of the Synod, spoke to Vatican News about Pope Francis’ recent decision to extend the Synod on Synodality by a year.

In conversation with Adelaide Patrignani, the French nun said that the move allows the Synod a period of “maturation” to “deepen discernment".

Extension to 2024

The Pope’s decision means that the Synod, which began in 2021, will now close in 2024, rather than 2023 as originally planned. The extra year will be used to convene a second meeting of Synod participants.

“So, it's one Synod in two sessions,” says Sister Nathalie. “And in the meanwhile, they [the Synod participants] will come back to their dioceses and there will be time to continue the process, to discern, to experience synodality.”

“It's really a decision – and Pope Francis has explained that – to deepen discernment, because synodality is really about discerning together, listening to each other, listening to the Holy Spirit. It's a learning by doing, we can say. So, it takes time.”

Sister Nathalie also stressed, however, that not everything has already been set in stone. In particular, she said, no final decision has been reached about what will happen between the synodal sessions in 2023 and 2024.

“It's really a process step by step, and it's a little bit early now to say exactly what will happen between October ‘23 and October ’24,” she said. “The Synod is unfolding through the different experiences and the different steps. Maybe we need to continue through the experience to discern what would be a good way to continue the synodal process between the two assemblies.”

Synodality worldwide

Sister Nathalie also described the various approaches which different areas of the world bring to the Synod. 

“In France, since the Second Vatican Council, almost all the dioceses have done one, two, three diocesan Synods or synodal processes … and so there is a kind of already rather strong experience of Synods and synodality in France.”

Some other countries, however, “have never had the experience of a diocesan Synod. They could have some experience of synodalities through a parish council, [a] different council, and depending on the culture, on the history. The situations are very different.”

While the various regions have different starting points, however, she underlined, “all the Bishops' Conferences and almost all dioceses have really been on board.”

“It's very beautiful to see how the synodal process has been implemented in so many different contexts”, she said. “Different languages, different cultures with a lot of creativity … And according to the different realities, we can see that the obstacles for synodality are not exactly the same. But there are also some common trends. It's very interesting to see how we are all together as one church, but also with a great diversity.”

Listen to the full interview
21 October 2022, 17:22